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Crawford makes rare IL trip, Giants call up Mercedes

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Given how bad the collision at the plate looked on Tuesday night in Atlanta, it was pretty incredible that the Giants had Brandon Crawford back in the lineup when they returned home Friday. Two days later, they reconsidered. 

Crawford was placed on the IL on Sunday with left knee inflammation and the Giants recalled Yermin Mercedes, who was claimed from the Chicago White Sox a week ago. This is just the third career IL stint for Crawford, who recently crossed the 1,500 game mark, and like with the first two, the Giants don't expect to be without him long.

Crawford missed 14 games with a groin injury in 2017 and nine last season with an oblique strain, but he otherwise has avoided the IL. The Giants are off this Monday and Thursday so they're hopeful that Crawford will miss just eight games. Manager Gabe Kapler said that wasn't an impetus to put him on the IL, but it's clear that Crawford could use the break right now. A year after getting MVP consideration, he has a .663 OPS and has not played to his usual level defensively.

"I think it's going to be great for him to be in a better spot," Kapler said. "I think this is an opportunity to get a player who hasn't really been healthy for the majority of the season, get him healthy and give him a break to let all of his tissues recover, his knee included. Sometimes a stretch of seven days without having to grind through the rigors of the game can be really big for a player. The expectation is we're not going to lose him for very long."

 

Kapler said "it's pretty enticing to try to recapture" the 2021 Crawford, and the Giants are hopeful that the rest helps a 35-year-old who is the oldest everyday shortstop in the Majors by a considerable margin. For the next eight games, Thairo Estrada and Donovan Walton will handle shortstop.

Mercedes is viewed by evaluators as a DH first and foremost, but Kapler said he's an option at first base and in left field, along with as an emergency third catcher. The key, though, is a bat that has always done damage against left-handed pitching. The Giants happen to face Detroit Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal on Tuesday. 

"Yermin is just a raker, a minor league raker who had big-time success in his introduction to the Major Leagues," Kapler said. "He became a guy that we were really interested in learning about. I think he's a good fit for our organization right now."

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Mercedes showed up Sunday morning and will be available off the bench for the finale against the Cincinnati Reds. After making history by getting hits in his first eight at-bats last season and winning AL Rookie of the Month honors in April, Mercedes tailed off and ended up in the minors. He's hoping to recapture his best form with the Giants. 

"I'm so excited to be a Giant," he said. "I never imagined I would be here but they gave me the opportunity."

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